Ruckus in Parliament over SC/ST Atrocities Act, Andhra status; Houses adjourned for 15th day without business

The Parliament logjam continued for the 15th day on Friday as both the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha were adjourned without completing any business for the day. While the Lower House was adjourned amid ruckus caused by AIADMK and TRS MPs, the Upper House was adjourned after Opposition MPs created a ruckus inside the Parliament over special status for Andhra Pradesh and Supreme Court's decision over SC/ST Atrocities Act.

File image of Parliament. PTI

File image of Parliament. PTI

The Upper House of the Parliament was first to adjourn for the day.

Minutes after resuming business on Friday, Andhra parties, including the TDP, and KVP Ramachandra Rao of the Congress trooped in the Well of the Rajya Sabha shouting slogans for special status to the state while Tamil Nadu parties — DMK and AIADMK — raised the Cauvery water issue.

Congress members too were in the Well shouting slogans that the government was anti-SC/ST, in an apparent reference to the Supreme Court ruling on the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

Earlier, on Friday, Congress MPs including party president Rahul Gandhi were seen protesting under the Mahatma Gandhi statue in Parliament, demanding the Centre file a review petition against the apex court's decision on the said act. Congress members were on their feet protesting against the Supreme Court verdict on the SC/ST Act in the Lower House as well, which, too, was adjourned for the day without any business.

With the adjournment of both the Houses without concluding any business, it is clear that Union minister Vijay Goel's meeting with Opposition leaders, including Leader of the Congress in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, at their residence, was a failure.

Both houses also paid tributes to freedom fighters Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev, who were hanged on this day 87 years ago by the British, Naidu stood up to express his displeasure at the disruptions.

Ruckus in Lok Sabha too as MPs shout slogans demanding 'justice'

The Lok Sabha proceedings were disrupted twice on Friday, mostly due to noisy protests by the AIADMK and TRS members.

The House was adjourned till 12 pm soon after it met on Friday after the two southern parties started raising slogans over Cauvery river water dispute and quota issue, respectively.

Expelled RJD member Pappu Yadav was seen holding two placards demanding special status for Bihar.

The House reassembled at noon, but the sloganeering continued, thus forcing Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to adjourn the House till Tuesday.

During the brief hours of business, Mahajan had expressed willingness to take up the notices of the no-confidence motion moved by the TDP and YSR Congress but said she was unable to take them as the House was not in order. The requisite head-count of members supporting the notices can be done only if they are in their seats, she said.

At least 50 members need to support a no-confidence notice for the House to accept it and start a debate. The Speaker said the government had expressed its readiness for a discussion on it.

The Speaker also announced a holiday for members on Monday (on account of Ramnavmi on Sunday), as many of them had conveyed they would be busy in various events on the festival and would find it difficult to join the House the next day.

Stalemate in Rajya Sabha

Affairs were more disruptive in the Rajya Sabha that witnessed members of different parties storming the well even as Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu was delivering his address.

Expressing his displeasure at the failure of the Rajya Sabha to discharge its duties since it reconvened on 5 March, a distressed Naidu said, "People of the country have been let down."

Naidu also said past disruptions should not be cited to justify the "present wrong" and voiced hope the government will take the opposition into confidence to ensure the House functions next week.

"I am pained... I am sad," he said, adding he would not like to hazard a guess about what will happen in the House next week or "if you are going to change for the better".

When Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Vijay Goel read out the government agenda for next week, Naidu hoped the government would take the Opposition into confidence to ensure the House functions.

However, soon after listed papers were laid on the table of the House, placard-carrying members of Andhra and Tamil parties trooped into the Well and started shouting slogans. Congress members too joined them in the well.

Naidu said he was willing to allow discussion on any issue that the members want, but placards, demonstration and slogan shouting was not justified.

He also said that there was no "justification" for the persistent decision of the Opposition MPs to continue disrupting the house for three weeks.

However, Congress members countered this by blaming the government for the stalemate and alleged that it has not engaged the Opposition parties.

The adjournment of the House shouldn't come as a surprise since Congress on Wednesday had made it clear that it would corner the govt over a series of issues right from the Punjab National Bank scam, the Supreme Court's order on SC/ST Act and the death of 39 Indians who were abducted by Islamic State in Iraq.

Some party MPs were also given a notice for moving a privilege motion against External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj for allegedly "misleading" the House on the death of 39 Indians in Mosul.

Session of low productivity

The Parliament is lagging behind in terms of finishing scheduled tasks with productivity level really low. The Budget Session of Parliament, which reconvened after a brief break on 5 March, has been marred with disruptions, with the daily functioning in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha during Question Hours well below 0.1 hours (six minutes), according to PRS data. On Thursday, both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha were adjourned with a total working time of less than 15 minutes.

The overall productivity of Lok Sabha stands at 31 percent in the current Budget Session, whereas for Rajya Sabha, it's 41 percent till 20 March. During the Question Hours, the productivity level is even lower at 16 percent and 11 percent respectively. The above figures also include business taken up in the first half of the Budget Session which took place between 2 February to 9 February 2018.

Daily Time break-up in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha during Question Hour. Image courtesy: PRS India

Daily Time break-up in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha during Question Hour. Image courtesy: PRS India

Over the last 15 days, the Lok Sabha has managed to introduce just two bills — The Chit Funds (Amendment) Bill, 2018 and The Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, 2018 on 12 March — and passed another two bills — The Payment of Gratuity (Amendment) Bill 2017 and The Specific Relief (Amendment) Bill, 2017 on 15 March. Total time spent in passing the two bills which were passed in the Lower House were six and eight minutes respectively. With disruptions continued for the 15th day in Rajya Sabha, it's unlikely the two bills will see

A slew of bills — such as Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill 2018,  Banning of Unregulated Deposit Schemes Bill 2018, Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India (Amendment) Bill 2018, Commercial Courts, Commercial Division and Commercial Appellate Division of High Courts (Amendment) Bill 2018, Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Bill 2018 — were listed for the Budget Session, but haven't seen the light of day. The two houses are also expected to take up National Council for Teacher Education (Amendment) Bill 2017.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Mar 23, 2018 14:15:09 IST

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